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Even while electronic media gushes over the impact of… Electronic Media, millions of people over the world still love an antiquated notion called books. And though many mainstream book publishers have been consolidated into a few major imprints, there are still hundreds of small publishers and publishing services out there. One recently came to my attention as I researched publishing options for a friend’s memoir. I decided to transform my discussion into a conversation with Red Penguin Books and Web Solutions’ publisher Stephanie Larkin, whose latest book, "Shared Wisdom," will be out at the beginning of March, 2022.
As its founder and president, Larkin has led the company for over 15 years, working with books of all genres and helping people to “unleash their inner author” through book publishing. She publishes over 100 books a year of all types and genres. They range from business to fiction, memoirs to mysteries, children’s books, textbooks, and more. The authors hail from six different continents around the world, along with most of the United States.
Larkin has also authored “Write That Book!”, “365 Reasons to Celebrate!” and “Score with Social Media,” in addition to many ghostwritten publications. She speaks before groups such as professional organizations and chambers, artists and authors on topics ranging from small business strategies to leveraging the “power of the pen.”
In addition to spearheading Red Penguin Classes — the educational wing of Red Penguin Books which offers online classes in writing and book marketing — Larkin teaches courses. Her topics range from small business management to sales and advertising in the Marketing Department at Nassau Community College, where she works with future entrepreneurs and marketing professionals.
She also hosts “The Author Corner” — a chance to meet authors you want to read — airing on Verizon, Optimum and QPTV. These dialogues are also featured on “Between the Covers,” a web show for readers, writers and lovers of books as well as on the “Once and Future Authors” podcast. Stephanie will be hosting a new show, sponsored by the Ahmedabad Book Club in India, which will feature writers and book lovers from around the globe. It will be released this spring.
Q: You run a company that does print-on-demand publishing but it's more than just that...
SL: I run an independent small press publishing company. We publish about 120 titles annually in print, digital and audiobook formats. Yes, authors who are not interested in the added expense of bulk printing generally opt for print-on-demand. Nowadays, the quality of the two is nearly indistinguishable, as is the price differential, so it makes sense to set up books for POD rather than print thousands in advance and have the added expense/issue of fulfilling orders.
Q: How do you find your clients?
SL: My clients find me. Most come through referrals, or through one of our anthologies, literary journals, media events, or other exposure to our company. We’re fortunate to have quite a bit of public/social exposure.
If the question is "what type of clients do we attract" -- well, we publish everything from children's books to paranormal romance, educational books to personal memoirs. Some people come to us for business-type books that will help increase their exposure and credibility in a particular field. Others have a wonderful trilogy of fiction books. Still others have a family history or passion project. We publish all sorts of books.
Q: How do you determine your price points?
SL: We have various packages and pricing models, depending on a number of factors, most especially the condition of the manuscript. Some authors have a finished manuscript, others are seeking guidance in working on their manuscript, and still others come to us to ghostwrite their book — thus at very different price points. Over the years, we’ve worked with hundreds of small businesses, professionals and organizations, as well as authors on their websites and ebooks.
Q: Where did the name come from?
SL: We were originally a web company — Red Penguin Web Solutions, and our motto was "STAND OUT with Red Penguin!" Our first logo/website looked like an iceberg filled with penguins, and just one of them was red. That one stood out!
I had a vision — when forming the company — of a lot of things that looked the same, but where one stood out from the rest. I considered the Crimson Cow, the Lavender leaf, etc. — but I liked the color red (it is a bold, powerful color.) Penguins were "in" (think "Happy Feet"!) and I was broke, so it was easy for me to print in black and white, then take a red sharpie and simply color one penguin red. That's how we got the name!
On May 21, 2007, Red Penguin Web Solutions was incorporated. I started the company out of a desire to assist small businesses, professionals and organizations with their websites, digital marketing, etc. There is a crazy sordid story involving embezzlement and intrigue that led to this decision but that’s a tale for another day!
Over time, I was doing a lot more work for writers and the National Writer's Union. It was at a conference of the National Writers Union where I was a speaker that I had an epiphany moment — watching the speaker before me, I suddenly realized "I should do that! I should offer book publication to our clients, since I so often send them away to fend for themselves after I’ve worked on their ebooks, websites, etc."
Thus, Red Penguin Books was conceived in 2017. Our first publications were launched on December 31, 2017. There’s a lovely story about how I decided which book would be published first -- perhaps for another interview someday! I’m glad to say that our publishing division has grown exponentially each year.
We’re now an independent hybrid press with several different imprints, publishing over 100 books each year. Our first book was my beloved step-father's memoir which was handwritten and passed down to me. We published several books by Alberto Zuppi, an international lawyer responsible for extraditing Nazi war criminals and former Minister of Justice of Argentina.
We’ve published many books whose proceeds go to various non-profits, including mental health issues, military families, suicide prevention, drunk driving prevention, sexual assault, etc.
In fact we’ve published works from authors around the world and six different continents (everything but Antarctica) and have won dozens of book awards and Amazon #1 New releases among our authors each year. I’ve had multiple awards for my cable television shows "The Author Corner" and "Technically Speaking". Most of all, I feel pride and joy from helping people change their lives and make their dreams come true through their publication.
Q: As to publishing vs self-publishing? SL: Technically, self-publishing does not involve a publisher. The author does the editing, formatting, cover design, etc., and then "publishes" the book themselves. They use either a self-publishing portal (like Amazon/KDP - formerly known as Create Space), Book Baby, etc. A publisher does much the same thing but since there actually is a publisher, the person isn't "self-publishing.” I could equate it to hiring a contractor to do your kitchen, or doing it yourself. In both cases, you end up with a kitchen. It’s a matter of who does what (plus, since the contractor presumably knows their stuff, you'll end up with a better kitchen!) The contractor (like a publisher) probably doesn't accept all jobs — only those he wants to do. We have our books available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo (which, along with being the largest retailer in Canada also feeds into WalMart.) Also IngramSpark (which feeds into Baker & Taylor, the database/book repository for retail book stores and libraries) plus a host of smaller establishments.
In addition, we have our books available for wholesale/bulk printing on order. A number of these books go to schools, corporate shipments, etc. While in my view, self-publishing is the opposite of publishing, I guess the same people who think that they want to be self-published in actuality want to come to me (or another small press publisher) to do all of the work, get the distribution, handle the marketing, etc. Clients who say they want to be "self-published" probably don't want that at all since they haven't the foggiest idea what to do. I generally advise writers that, if they haven’t self-published before, they’re probably looking at about 100+ hours of work — after the book is written. My honest answer to the question "Why do so many people want to self-publish?" is "Do they really know what they are getting into?" But if the question is really, "Why do so many people want to BE published?" -- well, that is so true! Everywhere I go, people want to write books. I can't walk into a room without meeting people like that.
Q: And as to your life outside of Red Penguin...
SL: Before Red Penguin (heck, before the internet!) I was a musician and a high school music teacher. I’m still a musician. I play the piano, organ, guitar, violin, flute, sing, compose, direct choirs, etc.
I also love to travel and have been to all 50 states and 23 countries so far (adding 6 more this summer.) I’ve been married for 25 years and am the mother of three amazing kids -- a 24-year-old daughter who is an Air Force Intel officer, a 22-year-old son who runs our global and non-profit divisions and just returned from saving elephants in Sri Lanka, and an 18-year-old son about to graduate from high school. (My kids travel far more than I do!) I also love animals, nature, wineries, theater, good food and, of course, books!
For everything Red Penguin go to:
Facebook @RedPenguinBooks and @theredpenguincollection
Instagram @redpenguinbooks_ and @theredpenguincollection
Youtube Channel, Red Penguin BooksRedPenguinBooks.comBetweenTheCoversTV.comTheAuthorCorner.comRedPenguinProductions.com
“Ad Nauseam: Newsprint Nightmares from the 1980s” (fall 2018)“Ad Astra: 20 Years of Newspaper Ads For Sci-fi & Fantasy Films” (fall 2019)“Ad Nauseam Newsprint Nightmares from the 1990s & 2000s” (fall 2019)“Ad Nauseam: Newsprint Nightmares from the 1970s and 1980s”(fall 2021)
Author: Michael Gingold
Publisher: 1984 Publishing
Growing up in the 1970s and ‘80s, author/collector Michael Gingold became obsessed with horror movies and other genre films. This love led him to become a Fangoria writer and then its editor for nearly 30 years, as well as a Rue Morgue" contributor. He made that magazine the leading chronicle of all things horror/supernatural and more covering film, television and books for decades.
Before all that, he took his scissors to local newspapers, collecting countless ads for these movies. Gingold first began reproducing newspaper ads for ‘80s horror films in the pages of his Xerox fanzine Scareaphanalia, which he wrote and self-published for nearly a decade. While still in college, he began contributing capsule reviews to the annual book Movies on TV and Videocassette, and later did the same for The Blockbuster Video Guide. He also wrote full-length reviews for CineBooks’ annual The Motion Picture Guide, many of which now appear at the TV Guide on-line movie database.
So, when the 50-something hooked out with Matthew Chojnacki from 1984 Publishing, a genre book publisher, they organized a museum-worth of these ads as a visual history and graphic narrative of every kind of horror film, flick and movie.
Now, hundreds of pages of film ads from the last four decades (since the ’70s), these ads are spread throughout various editions. And the latest also includes a new foreword by legendary director Joe Dante.
First came Ad Nauseam: Newsprint Nightmares from the 1980s, which has more than 600 ads packed in the updated version. Rare alternate ad art for film franchises such as Halloween, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Child’s Play, Jaws, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and The Exorcist can be found in there. This book revels in oddities including Invasion of the Blood Farmers, The Incredible Torture Show, Psycho from Texas, Dracula Blows His Cool, Zombie Island Massacre and many more.
This year-by-year deep dive into the Gingold archive led to Ad Nauseam: Newsprint Nightmares from the 1970s and 1980s, which was issued with more than 450 ads. Within these pages is the art for such films as Gremlins, The Blob remake, and many horror franchises. Gingold then compiled Ad Nauseam Newsprint Nightmares from the 1990s & 2000s out of his collection of newsprint notices from those decades.
There are more than 500 striking ads for the big-budget gothics of the early and mid-'90s (Bram Stoker's Dracula, Interview with the Vampire), the slasher-film revival (“Scream,” I Know What You Did Last Summer, Halloween: H20), gruesome franchises (Saw, Final Destination), remakes (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Dawn of the Dead, The Ring), found-footage films (The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity) and so on. This volume also includes unforgettable critic quotes of the time, fascinating facts about the films' releases, and insightful commentary.
Besides horror films, Gingold also collected newspaper advertisements for the science fiction and fantasy releases that stoked his passion as a genre fan. So he developed Ad Astra: 20 Years of Newspaper Ads for Sci-Fi & Fantasy Films, another year-by-year look at the movies that shaped many childhoods in the '80s and '90s.
Inside this 270-page book, images for films such as Star Trek to Starship Troopers, The Dark Crystal to Dark City, Blade Runner are all here. There’s alternate artwork for such favorite films, where you can learn the fascinating behind-the-scenes stories of their marketing campaigns, and read the most entertaining and unexpected quotes from reviewers at the time.
In addition to 1984 Publishing’s Ad Nauseam and Ad Astra books, Gingold has authored The FrightFest Guide to Monster Movies (FAB Press) and Shark Movie Mania (Rue Morgue). He’s also contributed to Yuletide Terror: Christmas Horror on Film and Television (Spectacular Optical). Beside books, his screenplays include Shadow: Dead Riot for Fever Dreams, Leeches! for Rapid Heart Pictures and the upcoming Damnation for director Dante Tomaselli. He has served on juries for festivals including Montreal’s Fantasia, The Boston Underground Film Festival and the Ithaca International Fantastic Film Festival.
Gingold recently answered questions by email as to his passion that he now shares with the fan world.
Q: How long have you been collecting?
MG: I began collecting the ads in 1979, which was a fortunate year to start, since both horror and science fiction were booming in the wake of Halloween and Star Wars. 1979 was the year of Alien, Dawn of the Dead, The Amityville Horror, Phantasm and a lot more, and at that point, horror films that might have previously played only in drive-ins and 42nd Street grind houses started getting wider releases in the New York area, making their way into suburban theaters It was an exciting time to be a young horror fan, even if it was a little while before I could actually start seeing the movies in theaters! I kept collecting the ads right up through the mid-2010s, when newspaper advertising for movies pretty much died out.
Q: How do you store it?
MG: I kept the ads in file folders and large manila envelopes, carefully noting on them what titles were inside. Storing them that way took up a lot less room than keeping them in scrapbooks! Also, putting the ads in scrapbooks would have meant taping or gluing them, which might have led to damage if I took them out later. Maybe I somehow knew I'd be putting them to greater use someday!
Q: When did you realize you had a world-class collection?
MG: I guess it was around the late 1990s, with the rise of the Internet and people starting to run ads from their collections online. I realized I had compiled the ads for pretty much every horror film that got theatrical release -- at least, in the New York area -- for the past two decades, and started thinking a book might be a cool idea. And the title of that book was obvious--that came to me right away. I just kept on collecting, hoping I could find a taker for the book someday.
Q: How did you organize it?
MG: My publisher Matthew Chojnacki and I decided we should organize the book chronologically, year by year, so readers could see the progression of both the genre and the way it was advertised over the years. With the addition of Ad Nauseam II, and now with the expanded version of the first book, you can see how horror and its promotion evolved over a 40-year period.
Q: What are your favorites?
MG: There are so many that it's hard to pick a favorite, but I do especially like a couple of reissue ads from the '80s that had a humorous spin to them. In 1981, The Blob and Son of Blob were rereleased on a double bill, not long after "Who Shot J.R.?" mania had swept the country. Since Larry Hagman, who played J.R. on Dallas, directed Son of Blob, it was described in that ad as "The Movie J.R. Shot"! Then there's a midnight-show ad for Night of The Living Dead paired with "A different kind of violence" — Three Stooges shorts!
Q: What films were great but had bad ads?
MG: Evil Dead II is a good example; the image of a skull with eyes is a really generic and half-hearted way to sell one of the great over-the-top horror movies of all time.
Q: What films were bad but had great ads?
MG: Too many to count! That's part of the history of horror-film advertising. Movies where the ads promised more and/or better stuff than the films themselves delivered. And then there were some that were outright lies. One notorious example is Screamers, where the ad proclaimed, "Be Warned: You will actually see a man turned inside-out." Well, be warned: You won't!
Q: What ones are you looking for?
MG: These days, as part of my work writing and creating video featurettes about classic genre movies, I sometimes seek out horror-movie ads from outside the New York area, using on-line archives. Since I grew up and went to college in and around New York City, that's where the ads in the books came from, but frequently, especially in the '70s and '80s, movies would be released with different titles and campaigns in various cities across the U.S., and some films wouldn't play in New York at all.
One case in point: an interview I did with Gary Sherman about his involvement in John Huston's Phobia recently ran in Delirium magazine, and I was able to find an ad for what I believe was its only U.S. theatrical play, in Kansas City. There's another movie for which I'm writing liner notes for an upcoming Blu-ray — can't reveal what it is at the moment—where the ads were different in practically every city where it was released.
Q: Where do you hope this collection will go to be archived?
MG: At this point, I don't have plans to exhibit the ads any further; the books are so well-designed and packaged that they're kind of the ultimate showcase for them. I did make a tentative attempt to get a gallery show tied to the first publication of “Ad Nauseam,” but it never came together. What I have been hoping all along is that other collectors might come up with enough ads to put together books on comedy movies, or action movies. There were a lot of great ads in those genres too. So far it hasn't happened, but I'm still hoping.
Since life is about second chances, sometimes a “re-do” kicks off without one even realizing it at first. Once Linda Marks' family responsibilities were resolved and lightened, she seized the opportunity to re-launch her artistic career. After years of raising her son and caring for her mom, the 60-something re-emerged in 2013 with a lot to say through her songwriting. She released 10 studio albums with award-winning sound engineer, pianist and composer Doug Hammer of DreamWorld Productions.
Marks’ style integrates elements of jazz with contemporary folk and pop, affecting the ear while soothing the soul. Her poignant originals and fresh arrangements of favorite covers are delivered in an intimate, heart-to-heart style. Over the past eight years, she’s played in most of Boston’s major venues including Scullers Jazz Club, Club Passim, The Burren, City Winery and Club Café.
Then came the pandemic which transformed the world, making the term “home” more central for most of us. Sheltering at home. Working at home. Studying at home. Finding peace, but also moments of isolation. Curating recipes for cooking. Appreciating our pets.
Explained Marks, “Home has become an anchor for many of us during this COVID-19 time. For me, working at home gave more time for songwriting as I was moved or impacted by what was happening in our country (the Capitol Riots, the killing of George Floyd, and political polarization while facing a public health issue).
“All of these factors and experiences informed my new album and the songs that comprise it. The title track was inspired by sheltering at home in a pandemic world, and reflecting on what home is, has been, and can be. I reflected on how pandemic life was impacting our relationships, our children’s experience of childhood and our older citizens. I experienced the seasons more intimately through walks outside every day, which are safer than going to the gym daily, as I had done for all of my adult life pre-pandemic. These daily walks through all seasons during this pandemic made me profoundly aware of the way light, life and growth cycle around. My experience of the daily changes of the natural world inspired ‘Shadows On The Ground,’ set in late fall in New England.
“In August 2020, I was lucky enough to meet my partner Rob. To keep safe during a pandemic, we talked every night for three months before meeting. We wanted to make sure a substantive enough connection was there before risking meeting in person during a pandemic. An advantage of this kind of getting to know someone is you can really talk about anything and everything. The song “In The Distance” came from words Rob had written about himself leading us to connect. One could say he gets a co-write on the lyrics!
“When Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, we lost not only an extraordinary woman, but also a partner from an extraordinary marriage. This song, 'Marty And Ruth,' includes some actual words written or spoken by the two of them, celebrating their true partnership. Inspirational and rare.
During the COVID-19 turn down, her weekly “Songs From the Heart, Meditations For the Heart” livestream attracted a global following. She was featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” in Boston magazine and in the Boston Globe. She’s also co-founded of the artist-alliance group Women In Music Gathering (#WIMG), and has written songs to benefit community causes. Her song, “Light Up the Love” — an anthem for the global Light Up the Love movement — was voted the #1 song of Summer 2020 on Independent Share, Cygnus Radio.
Marks had produced 10 albums with Hammer and an 11th, “Home” which was released on Thanksgiving Day, 2021. That specific date, when most of us were spending time with loved ones at home, was a fitting time for the album to drop digitally. It was specially chosen for Marks’ 11th studio album, dropped in the 11th month of the year. What’s more, Thanksgiving Day was the 25th of the month, which was also Linda’s birthday.
As part of her new start, “Home” was mastered by Grammy-winning sound engineer Glenn Barratt. Marks’ arrangements came to life on ”Home” through a fine team of musicians: EJ Oullette on violin, guitar, bass and mandolin; Steve Latanision on pedal steel and banjo, Mark Bishop Evans on guitar and vocal harmony, Valerie Thompson on cello, Alice Hasen on violin, Jackie Damsky on violin, Andy Daigle on banjo, Judy Daigle on mandolin, Dave Birkin on saxophone, Bo Winiker on flugelhorn, Craig Akin on bass and Joe Sabourin on guitar.
Two songs really took advantage of such an ensemble. “During a rare dinner conversation with a friend who loves dancing, my own love of dancing, something I have not done in far too long, surfaced. As I reflected on how much fun it would be to actually partner with someone who shared my love of dance, the seeds of this song, ‘Dance Me Home,’ were born. Sadly, pandemic living has not allowed me to find ways to tap back into my love of dancing.
“Jazzin” is a fun uptempo Latin jazzy tune that came to me one morning. It uses vocalese from the Jazz tradition instead of lyrics and is designed to uplift the spirit. I loved arranging it with saxophone, flugelhorn, guitar and bass to complement my vocals and piano.”
The album closes with Be The Light, which has been called “an anthem for humanity,” inspired by Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem. As Marks noted, "Gorman invited us to not only see the light, but to be the light. I have always envisioned a large group of people of all ages and backgrounds singing this song together as a way of building bridges across what divides us and bringing our unique gifts to the world. This inspirational song has been called a "hymn for humanity.”
On January 1, a special CD version of the “Home” album was released for the global Folk DJ community. You can listen to “Home” on all platforms. Her 2022 album (“Every Day Legends”) is now in production.
This release and many others reflect the impact the Covid 19 pandemic has had on many musicians and creative people in general. So Marks' efforts prompted this Q&A as a way to understand how she coped.
Q: When did you first decide to go public with your music?
LM: I wrote my 8th grade graduation song and led my class in singing it at graduation. I performed in college both as a singer-songwriter and co-founded Yale's third women's a cappella singing group. I performed as a singer-songwriter in the ’80s and released my first album, a tape! Between the late ‘80s and 2010, I performed here and there but mostly operated in the undertow of life, not as an artist. I formally committed to re-engage in professional music in early 2010. Since then, and after my mother’s passing in early 2014, I’ve focused lots of energy on my music and released 10 albums.
Q: What are your favorite bands?
LM: I love soooo many kinds of music, that in some ways, I love my music song by song. When I choose covers, I choose them song by song, whether it be "Something That We Do" by Clint Black, which presents a very real and healthy vision of love and relationship. OR "Give Me Wings," made popular by Michael Johnson, which gives a beautiful vision of a man supporting his wife. Among the other selections I’ve included are "Heart Of The Matter" by Don Henley, "I Need You To Survive" by Hezekiah Walker and "Shallow" by Lady Gaga and Brad Cooper. The song by Mike Greenly and Grant Maloy Smith, "I See You", is among them.
As a child growing up, I admired Carole King. (People always mention that I’m like her as a woman singer-songwriter and piano player with wavy/curly blonde hair.) Also catching my attention were Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, Burt Bacharach, Herb Alpert and Harry Belafonte.
Add Broadway musicals to this list of influences. From "Pippin” I’ve covered "Corner Of the Sky"). From "A Chorus Line” I chose "What I Did For Love”. And from “Godspell” I’ve been covering "Day By Day" since my teen years. I also love East Bay Soul, Walter Beasley, The Rippingtons, Brandi Carlisle and more. The list could go on and on.
Q: And your choice of musical styles in general?
LM: Descriptions of my musical styles have taken into account the fact that beyond music I’m also a body psychotherapist. People have observed that I have a healer’s heart and am a body psychotherapist.
I do my utmost — it’s my mission — to weave together carefully crafted arrangements that transform pain into gold, ideally soothing the ears while touching the soul. I do my best to deliver spiritually uplifting messages that integrate elements of jazz, gospel, Americana, contemporary folk and a taste of Broadway as a full genre buffet.
My most fundamental style is "from the heart to the heart” so almost any genre can find its way into my songwriting.
Q: Do you have a pitch for yourself as a therapist?
LM: I invite people to listen to their bodies and follow their hearts. The body is so full of wisdom if only we learn how to translate what get called "symptoms" into communication and information we need to understand. Most all somatic feelings have emotional material just under the surface: a heavy heart may be connected to sadness, a lump in the throat might have something we are afraid to say, a headache might be what is weighing on our thoughts and feelings. And most all emotions can be felt in the body: sadness with a heaviness in the heart, or tears forming in the eyes, anger with a tight jaw or clenched fists, fear as a knot in the stomach of shallow breathing. Learning to work through emotional issues at a body level helps us gain insight and heal. Emotional safety is a key building block for this work.
Sadly, emotional unsafety is the norm in our culture. When we feel emotionally unsafe, most any symptom that can send us to a medical doctor or psychotherapist can appear, from headaches, to stomachaches and digestive issues, to elevated heart rate to anxiety and depression. As we learn to experience emotional safety in an emotionally embodied way, we tend to feel more of a sense of well-being and peace.
My work is very helpful for people who have a trauma history. It’s also very helpful for couple therapy (learning to truly speak and listen from the heart), exploring meaning and purpose in work and life, living with a sense of vision, and improving the quality of all our relationships -- with ourselves and others.
Q: Many of the songs were written by you except for one. How did you discover “I See You”?
LM: I was fortunate enough to take a master class with Grant Maloy Smith. At the end of the class, he did a concert and played “I See You.” I fell in love with the song immediately. I loved its message and the fact that it will be part of an anti-ageism campaign sponsored by Masterpiece Living, focused on healthy longevity. I decided I wanted to arrange and record it. It touched my heart. [Go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsV-9BHd1bE to experience her version.]
During the pandemic, I have thought a lot about children and older people. Having fallen in love with Grant Maloy Smith and Mike Greenly’s song about our older citizens, I found myself imagining an older person sitting down with a younger person and sharing the wisdom of their life’s experience. And so came this song — “Wisdom Words.”
Q: What keeps you plugging away?
LM: Music was my first language as a child. I didn’t talk until I was three but gravitated towards pianos even as a toddler. Even then, I intuitively knew how to sound out songs and play them. Sadly, my father didn’t value my innate passion and discouraged me from getting the piano I yearned for. No surprise: my first word was “piano!”
My mother put me in an experimental recorder program for three-year-olds at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, MA. Although the staff told my parents that I was gifted and talented, my father proceeded to create a mantra that haunted me most of my life: “music is a waste of a good mind.” He shamed my passion for music, but the pull towards it remained inside me. I saved my own money till I was 11 to buy a guitar. When I was 13, I was finally able to buy my own piano. From the moment the piano arrived, I began passionately playing when nobody was home. It was on our unheated, three season porch so, in the winter, my fingers froze.
I chose to major in Music at Yale where I focused on songwriting and co-founded Yale’s third women’s a cappella singing group as a 17-year-old freshman. I moved into my first round of being a professional musician after college and through grad school but my father’s voice still haunted me.
One could say I fell into the undertow of life -- having to work, raise my now 25-year-old son as a single mom and care for a mother with Alzheimer’s. Music remained farther away than I wanted it to be. In the last years of my mother’s life, I started creeping back towards music. But being in the middle of an intergenerational sandwich, kept taking me away.
When Mother died in 2014, I made a commitment to let myself fully pursue my deepest lifelong passion. That’s now my Round Two of being a professional musician. Released 1/1/22, “Home” is my 11th studio album and my 10th since 2014. The music flows abundantly.
Q: Times have changed since your first career phase. Do you do much with social media?
LM: As a musician I do whatever I can with social media. It’s how we stay relevant, especially during a pandemic when live music is riskier and more scarce. I’ve been doing a weekly livestream series on Facebook since March 2020. I’m now past 90 episodes and climbing.
My photos, YouTube videos, live streams, news about upcoming projects, including others’ opinions and liking others’ posts are all key activities on social media platforms. I’m also a LadyLake Music artist. The label’s founder. Cindy D’Adamo, promotes my music on all media platforms too.
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